After digging itself an 0-3 hole to start the season, Wake Forest has a chance to get to level ground Saturday with a win over visiting Richmond. A change in their philosophy on offense as resulted in back-to-back wins for the Demon Deacons, who will meet the Spiders for the 55th time.
Danny Manning’s team has reduced the number of 3-pointers it attempts, from nearly 24 per game in its first five contests to 15.5 in wins over UNC Greensboro and Illinois. The result has been a higher shooting percentage from inside and outside the arc, and less need for rebounding - something the Demon Deacons haven’t done well. “Yes, we have to get better in different areas, but everybody is still trying to master their offensive and defensive schemes,” Manning, whose team averages fewer than 33 rebounds per game, told the media. “Our flaws have come out earlier than some teams simply because we’ve lost games early.” A 1-6 start, their first since 1972-73, has also brought out the flaws of the Spiders, with rebounding (third-worst nationally through Thursday’s games) and 3-point shooting (313th among the 351 Division I teams) the biggest issues.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, ACC Extra
ABOUT RICHMOND (1-6): The return of Khwan Fore to regular duty has allowed the Spiders to be more competitive in their last three games, but it hasn’t resulted in any wins. After losing its first four games by an average margin of 24.3 points, Chris Mooney’s team has suffered three straight defeats by six points with the latest coming to Vermont. Fore has averaged 10.6 points over the last three games, which is right about where he was last season, which should allow the junior to serve as a much-needed complement to leading scorers Grant Golden and De‘Monte Buckingham.
ABOUT WAKE FOREST (3-4): Bryant Crawford has benefited the most from taking fewer 3-pointers as the junior has shot 50 percent from the field in the last two games after hitting 28.2 percent in the previous three contests. The 6-3 guard, who has scored in double figures in 32 consecutive games, registered 20 points in the Demon Deacons’ victory over Illinois and did most of it with a dislocated left pinkie. Doral Moore, who has never attempted a 3-pointer in his career, knows a lot about high-percentage shots, as the junior center is 32-for-38 from the field and set a school record with 16 straight made field goals.
1. Since winning 17 straight in the series between 1990 and 2009, the Demon Deacons are 3-7 against the Spiders, including a 75-67 victory last season.
2. Including 12 points from Fore in last week’s loss to Georgetown, the Spiders’ bench has produced only 63 points, which equates to 13.9 percent of its total for the season.
3. The 32 straight games in double figures by Crawford is the longest active streak in the ACC.
PREDICTION: Wake Forest 78, Richmond 69